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Final new social distancing measures introduced in S. Korea
Updated: 2021-10-18 09:31:34 KST
We start with the latest on the coronavirus situation in South Korea.
A new social distancing scheme begins today and South Korea will start the process of vaccinating older teenagers and pregnant women against COVID-19.

For more on this and other COVID-19-related updates, joining us live in the studio is our reporter, Kim Yeon-seung, good afternoon

Good afternoon

As I just mentioned, South Korea is starting a new social distancing scheme. Tell us more about what this entails

Mok-yeon, well the good news is that more people can gather under these new rules, and they don't have to worry whether it's before or after 6 PM anymore.
Now, for the remaining two weeks of October, the capital region will remain under level four, the highest of the social distancing scheme.
Under this level,.. up to eight people, including at least four who are fully vaccinated, can gather.
Restaurants and cafes can stay open until 10 PM.
Take a look at this graphic here for a better understanding.
As you can see, level three measures will be applied in non-capital regions.
So in regions under level three, up to 10 people can gather, as long as at least six of the group are fully vaccinated.
Also, operating hours for restaurants and cafes are extended to 12 AM.
But the extended hours do not apply to many entertainment facilities which include bars and singing rooms and they still have to close at 10 PM sharp, especially if they're in the greater Seoul area, and cities like Busan, Gwangju and Daejeon.

Well, these changes come on the back of the successful vaccination campaign.
In terms of vaccinations, where does South Korea stand right now?

Well as of Monday morning,.. almost 65 -percent of the population have been fully vaccinated.
Health authorities are now turning their attention to teenagers and pregnant women.
Teenagers aged 16 or 17 can get their COVID-19 jabs starting from Monday.
More than 55-percent of those in that age group have reserved their jabs.
Also those who are younger between the ages of 12 and 15 can also start reserving their Pfizer shots today,.. which they will get in November.
Vaccinations for pregnant women have also started, with more than 25-hundred women having signed up for their shots.

Right, and what about booster shots? How are they coming along?

So far, 380-thousand people in high risk groups have already signed up for their booster shots.
But the ones who also need to be considered as a priority group for boosters are those who got Johnson and Johnson shots earlier this year.
A new study tracked more than 600-thousand veterans who got the Johnson and Johnson shot in March and health experts saw that the protection rate of those vaccines had fallen drastically within five months, from 88 to 3 percent.
You know,.. one of the main draws to these Johnson and Johnson vaccines were that unlike Pfizer or Moderna they were a one-shot deal.
But now with studies pointing to waning immunity, different opinions are arising over whether this was the right call.
Doctor Anthony Fauci told ABC that Johnson and Johnson's vaccine should've come in two doses from the start.
Also, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last Friday voted unanimously to authorize boosters to those who got the Johnson and Johnson jab at least two months after they received their shot.
South Korea is also currently working on a booster shot campaign, due to start as early as December for those, who were administered this particular jab.

And how has the uptick in vaccinations been reflected in the daily caseloads, have we been seeing an gradual downturn

Well,.. for the last three weeks, South Korea has been seeing an overall downward trend in infections.
And some experts are attributing this downward slide to high vaccination rates.
The average number of daily infections last week was down to around 13-hundred, which is a notable decrease from what we saw at the end of September, which was an average of more than 2-thousand cases.
And Monday's tally can be seen as part of this declining trend.
On Monday midnight, health authorities logged in the lowest number of daily cases since early July, 1,50 new daily infections.

Well hopefully the vaccination tally keeps going up, while new infections continue to go down.
Thanks, Yeon-seung, and we'll speak to you again tomorrow.
Reporter : winning@arirang.com